Tuesday, April 05, 2016

The Bitching Dead

Once again I find myself astounded by the complaints on social media about one of the best television series currently on the boob tube… AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’.

The standard complaint usually comes after a deep episode of character development that lacks the carnage that segments of the show’s fan base seem to appreciate the most. “If it bleeds it leads” appears to be the mantra for those types that appreciate knives to zombie skulls or just flat out beheadings. Or maybe they’re the “gun nuts” that own stock in companies that manufacture squibs (exploding blood packs for scenes involving over-the-top gunshots)?

I don’t really know, but it seems that there are a percentage of fans that want more gore and fewer meaningful scenes of character development. Perhaps they’re just too obtuse to understand the deeper meaning of the series. Again, I just don’t know and I’m not sure why that bothers me.

‘The Walking Dead’ just wrapped up another season where Negan finally made his appearance. Sure, the series saved him for last on the season ender and who could blame them?

But the cliffhanger where Negan takes Lucille, a barbed wire wrapped baseball bat, and beats the skull in and life out of one of the cast members caused a lot of outrage on social media.

The cries were loud and some were calling “BS”. A percentage of the viewing audience was angry about the decision of the writers and creators to turn a season ending episode into a cliffhanger. They felt that they deserved to know which cast member was biting the dust at the hands of Negan and his Lucille.

In my opinion, this is unbelievable.

The ONLY thing they owe viewers is simple and easy to understand… They should leave you for six months wanting more of ‘The Walking Dead’. That is their job.

‘The Walking Dead’ is a serial. Each episode continues the storyline created, written, acted, and directed by professionals committed to telling stories in the medium known as television. A time honored tradition of serials is that previously mentioned thing referred to as a “cliffhanger”. The purpose is to leave you hanging as to what the results will be when the series picks back up.

There’s plenty of time to discuss the cliffhanger during the time before the next season airs. You’re able to form ideas and share opinions. You’re able to digest the happenings and speculate about what will happen during the new season that will be here before we know it.

I remember a time in 1980 when the American public was obsessed with a season ending cliffhanger where J.R. Ewing was shot by an unknown assailant on a nighttime soap known as ‘Dallas’. “Who shot J.R.?” became a national catch phrase. There were even t-shirts dedicated to the storyline with the simple phrase of “I Shot J.R.”. Everyone had their theories as to who tried to kill bad ol’ J.R. Ewing.

It was great! I had my theory and I was wrong. As a matter of fact, I don’t recall knowing anyone that had a correct theory. The series was a staple in the Sims household and we discussed it all summer long around the dinner table at least once a week. It was discussed in the classrooms, lobby, and hallways of Northwest Guilford Junior High School. Some of the discussion even spilled over into the buses that shuttled us to and from NW Guilford. It would pop into discussions happening in the parking lot and game room at Putt-Putt during the summer.

It was inescapable. And it was fun to chat about.

So what has happened over the years to cause ‘The Walking Dead’ audience to cry out with disapproval when they were presented with a fantastic cliffhanger last Sunday night?

Personally, I feel that today’s viewers have become too accustomed to instant gratification that comes with streaming favorite television series. And if viewers don’t get that satisfaction, well by golly they’re going to take to social media and voice their disapproval instantly because they have a “bullhorn” to do so.

They sound like spoiled children that aren’t getting what they think they deserve. After all, they deserve to know! They don’t care for the time honored tradition of the “cliffhanger” that serial types of shows are historically known for… They want it now!

Perhaps those viewers don’t care for fun things like speculation and reflection about events leading up to the cliffhanger. Maybe they don’t like discussing it with friends and family.

Oh wait… They desire instant gratification. What was I thinking?

Listen… If you’re an avid viewer of ‘The Walking Dead’ you got exactly what you deserved. We all did. Sure, I’ll give up the fact that the mid-season finale with Glenn surrounded by a horde of zombies around a dumpster was gimmicky. It shouldn’t have involved a character of that magnitude and it shouldn’t have taken as long as it did to resolve when the series came back from the mid-season break.

And maybe that’s what is pissing off a percentage of the millions that watch ‘The Walking Dead’. They may feel as if their emotions are being toyed with.

Well, guess what? Emotions are being toyed with and that’s the whole point.

Those responsible for making the series want you craving the identity of the character that dies at the hand of Negan and his handy little friend Lucille. That is exactly what serial storytellers are supposed to do.

Live with it, accept it, and enjoy the off season discussion with friends and family. You’ll be surprised as to how you may come to some other possibilities and ideas. Open yourself to discussion about ‘The Walking Dead’ season finale on social media instead of bitching about not getting your instant gratification.

I’m not a fan of binge watching television series. I get the feeling that this instant gratification is making viewers dumber and spoiled because they don’t want to think and roll ideas around in their noodle. They need answers now!

In my opinion, that’s a damn shame.

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